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Winning in March

I am fascinated with the West Region in this year’s NCAA Tournament. Although I believe it could be the easiest march for the eventual winner, that also makes it the most dangerous. Preconceived notions and assumptions will be the death knell for coaches in this tournament.

One of the most difficult things for a coach to do is to focus his players and get them to respect opponents that might not have the pedigree of other teams, especially the top seeds in a region. Coaches sit up nights vomiting in a corner, hoping their kids understand the importance of taking your opponent seriously.

And this is why I love Gonzaga in this tournament. This team is talented and can score the basketball. But what I love about them has nothing to do with stats, scoring, defense or conference championships.

The tangible is non-essential and the intangible may be the key that unlocks the power and potential of Mark Few’s team. The Bulldogs have something to prove.

Gonzaga is the number one seed in the West Region and there are some analysts that don’t like it and look at the Bulldogs with skepticism. All acknowledge their talent but few (no pun intended) acknowledge the conference they play in. The West Coast Conference is defined by its relative obscurity.

The knock against Gonzaga is the WCC, but they have one of the best big men in the country in Kelly Olynyk and an experienced backcourt. Olynyk is averaging big numbers but numbers often vanish come tournament time and desperation prevails.

Mark Few’s kids are talented and understand they have something to prove. And that combination is the stuff of kings in this tournament. And that’s why I like them to win the whole thing.